Saturday, I flew back from Buttonville to Rochester, and then back to Buttonville.
For the flight back, I filed direct, but I was cleared “Buttonville One, vectors to V252 AIRCO V31”. Ok, that’s not too different than one I frequently got in the past coming back from Oshawa, so it was easy to program into the GPS. Taking off, Buttonville tower and then Toronto Approach keep you under 3000 ft until you’re a bit off-shore, and then they start you up to your filed altitude (9000 ft). But then it’s up to altitude and “direct BULGE” (BULGE is a waypoint on V252). And before you even get to BULGE, they clear you direct Rochester and switch you over to Buffalo approach.
It was a pretty uneventful flight – a few clouds around 7000 feet, bright sunshine, summer haze. After they switched me over to Rochester Approach, he was talking to two aircraft “DEMO 1” and “DEMO 2”. I had no idea what that was, although maybe I should have clued in as the controller asked one of the planes if it was a flight of two or not. But as I was finally getting a descent after being sent over the approach end of runway 22 at 5000 feet, I heard him clear “DEMO 2” for a overhead break. An overhead break is a military approach, and so I finally clued in that these guys were military.
As I turned final to 25, I saw “DEMO 2” doing his overhead break for runway 22. It was an F-15. Very cool. I timed my touch down so that I landed almost exactly the same time as him.
It was after I taxied to the customs shack that I discovered a disasterous mistake – in my haste to get to the airport, I’d forgotten to bring my green card and passport, which were sitting in my laptop bag back at my dad’s house. And worse luck, I got the same customs guy I got two weeks ago. Last year every time I came back from Canada, it was always the same guy, and after 2 or 3 trips he started recognizing me and just asking for my CF-178 (US Customs Arrival Report form) and then leaving. But this new guy seems like a real stickler for the rules, and gives me quite a thorough questioning each time. So this time, the fact that I’d forgotten my id, combined with the fact that I was using a CF-178 that I’d pre-filled and printed out a pile of them two years ago so it had my old address on them, and he was threatening to call the Border Patrol and have them haul me off in handcuffs. Eventually he relented and let me go.
I picked up Laura and flew back to Buttonville. I got the same route as I’d been given on Friday, so it was programmed into the GPS already. And once again, I was given direct to Buttonville long before I got to LINNG, although the controller suggested that I go direct to the NDB KZ instead of the airport CYKZ, because that would put me on downwind for the runway in use. That worked out pretty well, and this time I managed to get slowed down well in advance so I didn’t end up running up on the guy ahead of me and landed with no incidents. The tower called me out as traffic saying I was “over the cathedral” and sure enough there was a very odd looking cathedral-like building in the middle of no-where.
Customs was another pain in the ass – I’d tried calling CANPASS for my arrival from my cell phone, and the call kept getting dropped while I was on hold. So I went into the FBO to call, and Laura, because I had to get her to get out of the plane so that I could get out (stupid Pipers with their only door on the passenger side), followed me in. I wasn’t thinking, and I should have told her to wait by the plane, although since they send somebody out so rarely, I figured it didn’t matter. So I called CANPASS and got told that they were going to meet me. Oh oh – I told Laura to get back out to the plane. I followed her after establishing where the customs agents were and making sure they knew where I was.
The customs agents were annoyed at me for letting Laura leave the plane, and for not having my id, but they were still friendlier than the guy in Rochester.
We got on the road, and discovered that we’d have time to meet Vicki and the rest of the group to travel to the concert together.
Today was the return flight. Leaving the restaurant after breakfast, I noticed my pulse racing, and I started to worry that the waitress had given me regular coke instead of diet coke. But then I wasn’t sure if the racing pulse wasn’t because of worry that I’d gotten the wrong drink. But confirmation that I *had* gotten the sugar came when I suddenly got a massive headache. Well, good thing it’s a short flight.
I got the same route clearance as yesterday, and events unfolded much the same. We climbed up through some clouds on the way up, and then at the south shore of the lake we had to descend through a lot more – a scattered to broken layer of cumulus that went from 9000 all the way down to 5000. The turbulence in the clouds combined with my blistering headache gave me some motion sickness. Fortunately by that time I’d been cleared “direct Rochester” and we only had 10 minutes on the ETA on the GPS.
We made it home without me having to use a barf bag, much to my relief, and met the same customs guy as yesterday. And while we had all the documentation (and I’d remember to cross out the incorrect home address but forgotten that my pilots license number had changed too), he grilled us pretty heavily. I’m sure he was hoping to catch us out on some inconsistency in our stories. He also opened Laura and Vicki’s bags, but not mine. Eventually he cleared us, and Vicki and Laura went off to the Corn Hill Festival while I put the plane away.
It’s been 4 hours since I landed, and I still have the headache and queasy feeling. Man, that sucks. One of these days I’ll learn and only drink bottled soft drinks.